Thomas Bewick: Correspondence

Scope and Content

Seven items of correspondence, with a newcutting on Thomas Bewick and catalogue entries on the letters.

1. Thomas Bewick, Newcastle, to the editor of the Monthly magazine, 8 October 1805, 6 pages, concerning his wood engravings for A general history of quadrupeds and rebutting a statement that he had not designed them himself.

2. Thomas Bewick, Newcastle, to John Chambers Esq, 43 London Street, Fitzroy Square, London, 10 March 1815, 3 pages and address, providing an account of his life and work.

3. Thomas Bewick to Thomas Unwin Esq, Thavies Inn, London, 16 January 1819, 2 pages and address, concerning raising money for a friend.

4. Thomas Bewick, Newcastle, to R.E. Croker Esq, 26 June 1822, 1 page, acknowledging payment of an account.

5-7. Ralph Beilby, Newcastle, to Thomas Bewick, 7 September 1797, 8 September (no year) and 22 January (no year), 4 pages, concerning their quarrel over the production of History of British birds.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), wood engraver, was born at Cherryburn House, near Eltringham, Northumberland, in August 1753. He was apprenticed to the engraver Ralph Beilby (1749-1817), with whom he subsequently entered into partnership in Newcastle. Bewick executed cuts for children's books, 1771-1774, and engraved blocks for Select fables (1784), A general history of quadrupeds (1790), History of British birds (1797 and 1804) and The Chillingham bull (1789). He died at his home in Gateshead on 8 November 1828.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Received from the library of Sir Geoffrey Keynes, 1982.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Thomas Bewick in Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds, Dictionary of national biography, vol. II (London, 1908), pp. 455-460.

Other Finding Aids



The items are nos 408-412 in Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Bibliotheca bibliographici (London, 1964), p. 44. The fourth letter, to R.E. Croker, is no. 3888 in Thomas Hugo, The Bewick collector (London, 1866).